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Radcliff considers shoring up grant shortfall to purchase generator

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City would have to pay around $31,000 to install backup power at Colvin Community Center

By Marty Finley

If Radcliff wants to place a generator at Colvin Community Center, it likely will have to dip into reserves to do so.

City officials on Tuesday learned a community development block grant received for the generator will not cover the costs of the project because the city underestimated the cost based on estimates it received.

The city received a federal grant of $146,675 to purchase a generator, a mobile suitcase repeater the Radcliff Fire Department can use to mobilize communications if the radio system is unresponsive and a software upgrade for its outdoor warning sirens that will alert the fire department if there are deficiencies in the system.

The city budgeted $47,000 of the grant to cover the generator, but the two bids received vastly exceeded the amount.

The lowest bid, placed by Skyler Construction, came in at $83,430 while a second bid exceeded $100,000.

Dale Painter, project coordinator for the city, said the significant gap in the bid amount and the money budgeted was because the city failed to consider a need for roughly 160 feet of gas line that must be placed for the generator. The model bid also is a larger generator than other generators the city possesses, Painter added.

Radcliff Fire Chief Jamie Henderson said the $47,000 also was based on estimates the city gathered prior to receiving the grant, but the city could not bid the project at the time because the grant money was not guaranteed.

However, Henderson argued the generator is needed and the city should take advantage of the grant because money may not be available in the future. If the generator is placed, Henderson said, Radcliff would be one of only a handful of shelters in the state with a backup generator. 

Chief Financial Officer Chance Fox said the city is looking at a nearly $36,000 shortfall for the generator, which could be reduced by about $4,500 if the city is successful in modifying the grant and using some of the money saved for the siren upgrade.

The city received a bid from Federal Signal for the siren upgrade at $83,532, which was lower than expected. Jon VanderMolen, fire marshal with the Radcliff Fire Department, said the city must test its sirens by sounding all of them at once and having spotters at each location to ensure they’re working. With the upgrade, VanderMolen said, the city will be able to monitor the sirens electronically and locate deficiencies or malfunctions quickly.

The mobile suitcase repeater, meanwhile, is expected to cost about $8,000, said Chief Financial Officer Chance Fox.
Fox said the city could dip into reserves to make up the shortfall, which is about $31,300 if the city is able to modify the grant.

Fox said the city also may find some savings from streamlining measures made to staffing through retirement and attrition that could absorb the shortfall, though he suggested the city earmark the project from excess funds as a precaution.

But Councilman Don Shaw said he did not see the need to place such a high priority on the generator and said he believes it can wait. Shaw said he has lived in Radcliff for nearly 40 years and can only remember one disaster — the 2009 ice storm — that crippled the city’s electrical capability.

Councilman Jack Holland said the city has had to deal with other disasters, such as snow storms and floods, where the generator could have been beneficial.

Holland also pointed out residents from West Point and other Hardin County cities have looked to Radcliff for shelter in the past.

“I’d rather pay $30,000 now and get it than lose the (grant) and have to pay $100,000 later,” he said.

Councilman Stan Holmes also suggested the city move quickly so it could get the generator in place before bad weather hits in a few months.

Henderson said the city had one fatality during the ice storm of 2009 so the generator would be a a worthy use of reserve money.

“I would hate to think you’d put a price on life,” he said.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.